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HISTORIC SHOCK TO THE HEARTLANDS

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Employees in the southern Tory heartlands such as Croydon, Worthing and Tunbridge Wells were last week sent into th...
Employees in the southern Tory heartlands such as Croydon, Worthing and Tunbridge Wells were last week sent into the archives to confirm that for the first time in history the councils had passed out of overall Conservative control.

For Sir Peter Bowness, ex-leader of Croydon LBC, the Labour Party's success in picking up 10 seats from the Tories has spelled the end to his 18-year reign as council leader.

'We fought the election on the council's track record. It's a good record and many people on the doorstep told us so', Sir Peter said. 'But of course no election is fought in a vacuum and the Conservative Party is not at the height of its popularity'.

Mary Walker, Labour group leader since 1986, will take over as leader. Sir Peter, who will also be deprived of his leading role in both the London Boroughs Association and the Association of Metropolitan Authorities, said his time would now be devoted to his work as a member of the Committee of the Regions and to 'the interesting matter of earning a living'.

In Tunbridge Wells the shock of being left with no single party in control has been mitigated by an expectation that local Conservatives would continue to maintain the administration on the casting vote of the mayor.

Chief executive Rodney Stone said officers were 'awaiting developments with interest' to see if the results - with 24 seats to the Conservatives, 20 to the Liberal Democrats, three to Labour and one Independent - would make a difference to the working of the council.

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